Economy & Politics

Questions instead of answers – Corona as the starting point for a fresh start?

This is what the new normal looks like: In the Corona crisis, the home office became a matter of courseimago images / Hans Lucas

After only a few weeks of pandemic, we are creating roadmaps for ways into the new normal, which we have also given the name “New Normal”. And these roadmaps tell us how we have to act entrepreneurially and as marketers.

Beyond the ambiguity of where we get this clarity and certainty from, exactly how everyone has to act now, there are two central questions for me:

First, do we really want to leave what is currently showing as New Normal as it is?

Because what does that mean for our future? A dominance of men in the socio-political debate? Cementing old role models? A perfidious cauldron towards scientists because they ask questions and articulate ambivalences and just don’t have the answer? Or is it a loss of young voices participating in the discourse? And last but not least, the terrible events in the USA: They make it clear to us that the New Normal may not be far from the “Old Normal”. Do we really want that? Perhaps it is worth taking a look at all of the “non-normal”, the extraordinary that we are experiencing and that encourages us if it does not go away immediately.

Second, how can the positive momentum that we are currently experiencing in society and the economy be continued?

In many parts of the economy, we are also watching the walls fall that we have been hammering on for a long time: from digitization to regionalization to new work – the boost is gigantic and certainly worth looking closely at what urgently needs to remain. We discuss in a new way what is just and systemically relevant, and in the socio-economic discussion, perspectives attract attention that were previously only discussed among the highly interested. How lucky that we as a society are creating this momentum.

Our most important new superpower: light-footed innovation

What is also strongly encouraging for the future is how much energy, potential and ingenuity sprout from every corner of our society as soon as we allow ourselves to be insecure and show agility. The Economist calls it “creative disruption”: companies easily lift innovation projects from the ground, change production processes in no time at all and leave their silos to work together on innovations. Not only IBM, Bosch or Nike proclaim their successful innovation courses, but the “German Mittelstand” in particular is proving to be inventive – from mobile corona test stations to new service apps for medical practices and star cuisine as a take-away experience.

All of this shows the ability not to break up with changes, but to grow with them and to create something new. These are behaviors that we would hardly have thought possible of ourselves a few months ago. But the faster we classify and manifest a new normal, the less chances we will have for growth as an economy and society. Because what the virus has shown us so far is: Predictions become more difficult, agility and thus the willingness to change and disruptive creativity become more important.

So how many chances are there in the corona-provoked balancing act between uncertainty and agility? And how can we make daily balancing bearable? What responsibility do we have as entrepreneurs? And how do we strengthen our compass? The crisis seems to suggest one thing: the clearer the inner entrepreneurial vision and the clearer the entrepreneurial purpose, the easier agile navigation will be.

Corona gives us the chance to question our entire global system

So instead of propagating a New Normal, maybe the chance for us could be not to allow a New Normal, but to critically examine the weaknesses of the previous system: What if Corona were always? How do we want to live in the future? How to create sustainability? How important should people and humanity be in the economy and society in the future? And what is actually fair?

The answers to this cannot be simple because they require a variety of perspectives and are therefore not only complicated, but complex. We will need interdisciplinary cooperation from the smartest thinkers and most innovative entrepreneurs to develop a design for a better economy and society. We should accept this challenge and therefore continue to ask many questions before we are satisfied with the answers for a New Normal.

Katrin Seegers is a managing partner of the Rethink agency and is one of the most distinguished minds in the agency industry. She’s been in it for almost 30 years. She previously spent most of this time as managing director at Scholz & Friends.


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